Exploiting the role of plant growth promoting rhizobacteria in reducing heavy metal toxicity of pepper (Capsicum annuum L.)

Mohamed T. El-Saadony, El Sayed M. Desoky, Khaled A. El-Tarabily, Synan F. AbuQamar, Ahmed M. Saad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microorganisms are cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative methods for removing heavy metals (HM) from contaminated agricultural soils. Therefore, this study aims to identify and characterize HM-tolerant (HMT) plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) isolated from industry-contaminated soils to determine their impact as bioremediators on HM-stressed pepper plants. Four isolates [Pseudomonas azotoformans (Pa), Serratia rubidaea (Sr), Paenibacillus pabuli (Pp) and Bacillus velezensis (Bv)] were identified based on their remarkable levels of HM tolerance in vitro. Field studies were conducted to evaluate the growth promotion and tolerance to HM toxicity of pepper plants grown in HM-polluted soils. Plants exposed to HM stress showed improved growth, physio-biochemistry, and antioxidant defense system components when treated with any of the individual isolates, in contrast to the control group that did not receive PGPR. The combined treatment of the tested HMT PGPR was, however, relatively superior to other treatments. Compared to no or single PGPR treatment, the consortia (Pa+Sr+Pp+Bv) increased the photosynthetic pigment contents, relative water content, and membrane stability index but lowered the electrolyte leakage and contents of malondialdehyde and hydrogen peroxide by suppressing the (non) enzymatic antioxidants in plant tissues. In pepper, Cd, Cu, Pb, and Ni contents decreased by 88.0-88.5, 63.8-66.5, 66.2-67.0, and 90.2-90.9% in leaves, and 87.2-88.1, 69.4-70.0%, 80.0-81.3, and 92.3%% in fruits, respectively. Thus, these PGPR are highly effective at immobilizing HM and reducing translocation in planta. These findings indicate that the application of HMT PGPR could be a promising “bioremediation” strategy to enhance growth and productivity of crops cultivated in soils contaminated with HM for sustainable agricultural practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27465-27484
Number of pages20
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • bioremediation
  • contaminated soil
  • eco-friendly procedures, environmental impact, heavy metals
  • plant growth promoting rhizobacteria
  • yield

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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